DUP man slated over ‘anti-Irish’ email

Bert Johnston email

The leaked email

DUP COUNCILLOR, Bert Johnston, has said that Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan is creating a ‘storm in a teacup’ following his criticism over a leaked email in which the unionist councillor described the Irish language as ‘foreign and gnomish’.

The email, which was leaked online and appeared on social media, referred to Cllr Johnston thanking an individual for his support and encouragement in ‘my bid against the introduction of the gnomish language to my town that produced the Inniskilling Fusiliers that fought for freedom’.


And, Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan, took issue with his comments, saying: “I have no problem respecting Bert’s Britishness. Clearly Bert has a problem respecting mine and others’ Irishness.”

He said: “Surely Bert knows that the town of Enniskillen takes its name from Irish, Inis Ceithleann, as does his homeplace of Ballinamallard or Beal Atha na Mallacht, which means ‘the ford-mouth of the curses.’”

He went on: “It is ironic that Bert talks about the Inniskilling Fusiliers, because as he will know, the Fusiliers were disbanded and became part of the Royal Irish Regiment, and the battle-cry or slogan of the RIR is ‘Fag a Bealach’ which is Irish for ‘clear the way’”.

“Bert’s comment is an example of how some within the DUP struggle to deal with the central plank of the Good Friday Agreement which is parity of esteem.

“The Irish language is the language of all of the people of this island. Gaeilge is growing in popularity and over 13% of people in Fermanagh have some ability in Irish.

“Bert’s comments are extremely derogatory, reflect poorly on his party’s talk about a shared future and he should apologise and withdraw them.”

In response, Cllr Johnston said: “The criticisms by the MLA Phil Flanagan is nothing to do with what I said. I would say that it’s just creating a storm in a teacup.”


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